To Live and Die - Chapter 2 / The Macabre Club (2 of 2)
The door creaked shut behind him as Bond turned left and followed the man down the street. Morzeny paused, adjusting the collar of his cream jacket, the clear cross of a scar visible under a dim street lamp.
Bond lit a cigarette and ducked into the entrance of a tailors. He paused for a moment, regarding himself in the reflection. The light bounced off his shoulders and hair, his face remained concealed, all that could be seen was the faint smoke, projecting from his nostrils like an old disgruntled dragon in the darkness. Bond peered around the corner, the top of a balding head bobbing up and down with each step the man took. Retreating into the doorway, he dropped the Moreland on the floor and toed it out with his well-polished Oxfords. He flicked the safety off on the 7.65mm and rounded the corner.
Morzeny had disappeared down a dark alley, Bond, searching through the night came to halt at the top of a small flight of steps and, reading his pistol, continued westward in his approach, catching up with his man. He lingered as if a specter in the Egyptian dusk. A cool breeze found Bond, kicking up wisps of dust from the cobbles and the faint incense of Mediterranean cuisine into the smoky streets. Bond wiped the coma of hair from his face. There was a thud. Bond hid from view and waited. The target glanced back over his shoulder, a smirk wrinkled his cheeks, and made another left into the maze of further alleys.
Suddenly as Bond parted from cover, there was the whip and crack of a rifle. The shot blasting away a chunk of concrete. Morzeny knew of his presence. There was only a matter of time before he lost him – this occasion perhaps he would – forever. Taking slow even breaths, Bond established the likelihood of where the shot had come from and turned to face the wall. He thought of smashing in the window before him before dismissing the notion and gripping a leaking drain pipe with both hands. He followed it and hoped it would reach the roof. He watched his feet and raised his left foot to scale it. The sniper let off another shot and cost the landlord another wad of Egyptian pounds.
There was a rustle of movement from behind him and before Bond could turn to attack his tuxedo had been pulled down and was held tight at the arms. He was dragged backwards. His assailant held his arms together with the grip of a python. A man in a dark turtleneck rounded the corner and dealt Bond a right hook to the torso. Bond cursed, drawing breath through his nose, and readied himself for the next blow. He closed the gap and gripped Bond by the shoulders. Feeling the other assailant loosen his grip slightly on his arms Bond kneed his attacker in the groin before dropping to his knees and pivoting inwards, flung the assailant over his shoulder in a downward arc. Bond produced his Walther and heard a gun go off. The sniper had shot into the contorted bodies. He seized his chance and pulled himself up the drain pipe with haste. The second man pushed himself away from the limp body and dived for Bond’s ankles. Dragging him down the attacker turned Bond and pinned his shoulders clear against the wall. Bond fired a left and right hook into him in quick succession. His grip didn’t yield so Bond rolled his arms together and slapped the firm hands aside. Seizing the man by the collar and throwing him into the wall Bond dodged an intended headshot. He pummeled the assailant and, while stunned, threw his head into the window pane and onto his back. He scrambled for the gun at his hip. Bond kicked out and caught him under the chin, rendering him unconscious. Leaning down and unbuttoning the holster, Bond took the snub nosed .38 and tapped the man at either side on the face. He came to with a shudder.
‘Get up,’ Bond said, pointing the .38 at his chest.
The man did as he was told and Bond grabbed him by the arm.
‘Shall we go for a walk?’ Bond asked, shoving the barrel into the man’s back. The assailant grunted, furiously.
‘You’d like to? Well in that case, we shan’t waste any more time in getting to know each other.’
Bond shoved the man forward and walked him out into the sniper’s line of fire. The two of them walked from one end of the kill zone to the other, Bond scanning the rooftop for the flash of a muzzle to which there came none. The assassin had spared him and it troubled Bond. Why would they go to all this trouble of protecting the SPECTRE agent only to kill one of their own and leave? Bond held the Smith & Wesson at the ready and guided his man down a winding road leading to the outskirts of the city.
‘Now where to?’ Bond asked.
The man cursed. Bond twisted his arm. He cursed again.
‘I shan’t ask again, where can I find him?’
He sighed and told the Secret Agent of a monument constructed by the Romans in the days of Mark Anthony that lay only a few streets ahead. Bond could still catch him before a Hiller UH12C helicopter landed on the roof and flew Morzeny to a briefing in Paris.
‘Meeting with who?’
‘I don’t know,’ a faint trace of Slavic rolled over his tongue.
‘Then thank you,’
Bond pistol whipped him and pressed on, discarding the chunky revolver and replacing it with his own.
The only sound audible was Bond’s light footfalls on the cobbled streets winding down. He led with his pistol, twisting and turning on through the shadows, descending the decline in the landscape, closing in on his target. He paused, waited for a moment in cover, before pressing on further. Suddenly, his ears pricking up to the reverberations of heavier footfalls, Bond slipped his finger around the trigger and tightened it. Taking in slow even breaths, he glanced around the corner, crossing over a small square and back along a flight of steps was Morzeny.
Bond remained in darkness, poised, for a moment and considered calling for back-up. Station E would be more than ready, with a cordon from the local police force and dozens of special agents swarming the front and rear exits of the great Imperial headquarters. He caught a glimpse of the large grey profile and was gone. He dropped his firing arm to his side and crossed the square at a pace. Morzeny was not a man to be taken lightly.
It had been nearly a decade since their paths had crossed. The first and last time he had encountered the agent was on the Trieste border. Bond had fired a very pistol and scorched a squadron of SPECTRE attack boats. He had also been watching at the exact moment an explosion tore through the vessel and sent the head of their training facility tumbling into the fiery waters below. Somehow, someway, the man had survived.
The fortress that stood before Bond was shaped like a crescent moon. It had been restored somewhat in the early fifties by the British who used it as a command post. Now, tourists scoured the ruin in the daytime. As he admired it, standing amongst the old neighbourhood like a needle in a haystack of cheap slums and half crumbling structures, he saw the UH12C flying low towards them.
Bond raced up the steps, turning right at the top and darting through rotted archways. He found himself in a courtyard, empty of heritage and character. It resembled that of a cemetery. The browning stone walls and four pillars to his right serving as windows, a magnificent view over the city. Bond paused for a moment and took in his surroundings before peeling off left and darting up another flight and then another of steps. He was much higher than he had originally conceived and, pondering before him, was his target.
Morzeny trudged on, kicking up dirt, and made it past the first and second pillar. Then he stopped. Bond dived behind the first swiftly and rest his thumb on the Walther’s hammer.
‘I wondered when I’d see you again,’ he remarked.
Bond remained still - the game was up.
‘You’ve read my dossier 007, you know I ran a gulag back in Vladivostok. You see, I practiced and honed my skills on the inmates there, my patients, before joining SPECTRE in ’53. For twenty years I worked in the dark.’
Bond made for the other pillar, he was not even five yards from Morzeny and had a perfect line of shot. He hadn’t moved and Bond was ready. The Walther went first. He found himself before a cracked stone wall. Bond stopped confused and turned to receive a heavy blow to the face, he stepped back, Morzeny followed it up with an uppercut to the ribs, Bond trembled and remained there for a moment before collapsing.
‘And it will continue to serve me as my agent.’
Morzeny kicked the Walther away and toed Bond.
‘Look at me, look at me, I want you to see what your little stunt on the jetty did to my face.’ he snarled.
Bond lay sprawled out on his back panting with a heavy chest. He propped himself on his elbows, his face contorted at the villain’s harsh countenance.
‘Take a long hard look, this will be the last face you see. Now get up.’
Bond found his feet and braced himself. Morzeny went first. He evaded his onslaught for a few moments, diving and blocking his attacks before returning the favour with his own uppercut to the torso, winding him. He paused for a moment before tackling Bond and slamming him hard into the ground. A hard downwards elbow from Bond yielded his attacker’s grip on him somewhat and he thrust his knee into him repeatedly. Morzeny refused to yield, puckering up great strength and scrambled to his feet, Bond also. Then, like the SPECTRE of old, he lashed back. Tapping his left heel with his toe, the blade slid out, caked in a thick layer of turquoise, and went for Bond’s shins. Bond leapt back, hitting him hard in the face. Morzeny flexed his leathered hands, sliding on a pair of brass knuckles from his jacket pocket. Bond fixed his hands in a block before his head as Morzeny broke him the only way he knew how. Hook after hook crashed into Bond’s ribs strength, his arms sighed and a furious head butt bloodied James’ nose.
He paused and came at Bond again, hands aside but ready for the kick. Bond had him where he wanted him, bond as brass. He punched with tremendous force into Morzeny’s throat, stunning his man. He gurgled, in one swift movement Bond ducked, swiped his man’s leg aside before smashing his knee with a hook. There was a sickening crack, Morzeny received a greater dose of his own. The tongue of the blade retreated into its mouth to recover.
Morzeny smiled feebly, Bond had him on his feet and shoved him. He fell into the pillar and limped a dozen paces over to the edge of the ruin, admiring the great vibrant city below them in the glittering dusk.
‘He’s alive you know and he’ll be coming for you, all of you, and he won’t stop until he has you, trapped between his tentacles.’
Bond loosened his tie. ‘Who?’
Morzeny brushed the boot against his ankle, it’s steel tongue flashed out. He flinched, gasped for breath, clenching his jaws and blinked arduously.
‘He told me about what he did to her you know. She won’t be the last on his list I assure...’ He said thickly.
Bond started towards him, Morzeny put his hands in his pockets pivoted on his heel, crashing headfirst over the ruin, leaving a bloody mess on the ground three stories below.
Bond froze for a moment, gutted. The helicopter had seen it all and turned in mid-air, flying back the way it came instead of preparing another wave of SPECTRE’s onslaught. Once he picked up his Walther he pitched himself down against the pillar, lighting himself a cigarette and sighing in its fumes as he waited for the local police to arrive. As he waited, Bond’s thoughts stretched back home and the stern talking to he could expect to receive from M.